Jamey Johnson: The Insider’s Outsider

By Robert K. Oermann © 2011 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc. Jamey Johnson has a way of defying our expectations. At a time when it is harder than ever to sell full-length albums relative to single digital tracks, he has followed his Mercury Nashville Gold-certified That Lonesome Song with a [...] Read More

Jamey Johnson: a Link in the Chain

When Jamey Johnson released his 2008 album That Lonesome Song, he was uniformly hailed for the quality of the songs and the honesty of the performances. The album tipped its hat to traditional country and was recognized in The Nashville Scene’s annual Country Music Critics Poll as the best CD of that year. Now Jamey’s new double-disc project The Guitar Song is earning similar feedback. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and it’s getting early recognition as an Album of the Year candidate on the 2011 awards circuit. All of that’s well and good, though Jamey himself seems less interested than anybody in what kind of accolades it earns. The sales? The marketing? He’s more than happy to let the record label take care of those issues. Read More

Jamey Johnson Puts Traditional Country to the Test

In an era where many consumers buy their music one track at a time, Jamey Johnson has ramped up an old-fashioned idea. He’s not just releasing an album today — he’s putting out a two-disc CD. And for fans who want to go really retro, he’s also making it available as a three-disc vinyl album. All of that’s appropriate, because Jamey’s drawing on some old ideas about country with The Guitar Song. It includes remakes of songs originated by Mel Tillis, Vern Gosdin, Kris Kristofferson and Keith Whitley. And Jamey did it with an old-fashioned attitude. It was recorded as live as possible in the studio. The recordings were informal, much like the way he sings his songs when he takes them on the road. Read More

The Life and Legacy of Hank Cochran

Hank Cochran, a legendary songwriter who had hits in four decades, died Thursday after battling pancreatic cancer. A longtime member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, his words and melodies were significant in the careers of such signature artists as George Strait, Patsy Cline, Keith Whitley and Eddy Arnold. Hank was part of the first generation of Nashville’s full-time songwriters. Born in Mississippi, he was living and performing in California when he signed his first songwriting contract in 1959 with Pamper Music, a publishing company owned in part by Ray Price. In January 1960, he moved to Music City, where he became a regular at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a legendary music-business hangout. Tootsie’s provided an informal meeting room for country’s artists and writers, including Harlan Howard, Mel Tillis, Marty Robbins and Willie Nelson, who Hank first met there. He helped Willie get signed to Pamper and even gave up a raise to make sure the company could afford Willie. Hank’s legend was practically cemented when he and Harlan co-wrote “I Fall To Pieces,” a landmark Patsy Cline song with a nicely contoured melody and deftly direct lyrics. It was not just a great calling card. The National Endowment for the Arts named it one of 365 culturally significant recordings in a new-millennium list of the Songs of the Century. Read More

Chuck Wicks, Chris Young Help GAC Kick Off CMA Festival

“I feel like an old man.” A limping Chuck Wicks laughed off an injury Wednesday morning as he took a stage in the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to sing four songs and welcome a contingent of fans to Nashville. Chuck, Chris Young, Joey + Rory and Love and Theft took part in the third annual GAC Fan Breakfast, an adjunct event to the CMA Music Festival, which officially began with a parade just a few hours later. It wasn’t Chuck’s first public moment of the week. He took part Monday in the City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge, joining Joe Nichols, David Nail, Vince Gill and others on the “After Midnite With Blair Garner” team, which defeated the Grand Ole Opry squad 15-10. Chuck unfortunately got a raspberry chasing a ball, and the wound still stung Wednesday a.m., explaining his hobbling entrance at the Hall of Fame. Read More